BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — Former presidential adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman said Sunday she secretly recorded conversations she had in the White House, including her firing by chief of staff John Kelly in the high-security Situation Room. It was a highly unusual admission, which drew immediate fire from allies of the president and national security experts.
Parts of her conversation with Kelly were played on the air when she appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to promote her new book, “Unhinged,” which will be released this week. The Associated Press independently listened to the recording of the conversation between Manigault Newman and Kelly, which she said was one of many she’d surreptitiously recorded for her own protection.
In her book, Manigault Newman paints a damning picture of President Donald Trump, including claiming without evidence that tapes exist of him using the N-word as he filmed his “The Apprentice” reality series, on which she co-starred.
Manigault Newman said in the book that she had not personally heard the recording. But she told Chuck Todd on Sunday that, after the book had closed, she was able to hear a recording of Trump during a trip to Los Angeles.
“I heard his voice as clear as you and I are sitting here,” she said on the show.
But the other recording she discussed Sunday could prove equally explosive.
“Who in their right mind thinks it’s appropriate to secretly record the White House chief of staff in the Situation Room?” tweeted Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee.
In the recording, which Manigault Newman quotes extensively in the book, Kelly can be heard saying that he wants to talk with Manigault Newman about leaving the White House.
“It’s come to my attention over the last few months that there’s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you,” Kelly is heard saying, citing her use of government vehicles and “money issues and other things” that he compares to offenses that could lead to a court martial in the military.
“If we make this a friendly departure … you can look at your time here in the White House as a year of service to the nation and then you can go on without any type of difficulty in the future relative to your reputation,” he goes on to tell Manigault Newman, adding that: “There are some serious legal issues that have been violated and you’re open to some legal action that we hope, we think we can control.”
Manigault Newman said she viewed the conversation as a “threat” and defended her decision to covertly record it and other White House conversations.
“If I didn’t have these recordings, no one in America would believe me,” she said.
The response from the White House was stinging. “The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room, shows a blatant disregard for our national security – and then to brag about it on national television further proves the lack of character and integrity of this disgruntled former White House employee,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
The Situation Room is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, where the nation’s most consequential foreign policy decisions are made, and staff are not permitted to bring in cell phones or other recording devices.
“I’ve never heard of a more serious breach of protocol,” said Ned Price, who served as spokesman of the National Security Council in the Obama administration. “Not only is it not typical, something like this is unprecedented.”
Price said there is no one checking staffers for devices at the door, but there is a sign outside the room making clear that electronic devices are prohibited.
“The Situation Room is the inner-most sanctum of a secure campus,” he said, describing the breach as part of a culture of disregarding security protocols in the Trump White House. He also questioning why Kelly would ever choose to have such a meeting there.
The White House had previously tried to discredit the book, with Sanders calling it “riddled with lies and false accusations.” Trump on Saturday labeled Manigault Newman a “lowlife.”
Katrina Pierson, an adviser to Trump’s re-election campaign who served as a spokeswoman for his 2016 campaign, said she had never heard Trump use the kind of derogatory language Manigault Newman describes. She said in a statement that she feels “pity for Omarosa as she embarrasses herself by creating salacious lies and distortions just to try to be relevant and enrich herself by selling books at the expense of the truth. ‘Unhinged,’ indeed.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also questioned Manigault Newman’s credibility in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“The first time I ever heard Omarosa suggest those awful things about this president are in this book,” she said, noting Manigault Newman “is somebody who gave a glowing appraisal of Donald Trump the businessman, the star of the ‘The Apprentice,’ the candidate and, indeed, the president of the United States.”
Manigault Newman had indeed been a staunch defender of the president for years, including pushing back, as the highest-profile African-American in the White House, on accusations that he was racist.
But Manigault Newman now says she was “used” by Trump for years, calling him a “con” who “has been masquerading as someone who is actually open to engaging with diverse communities” and is “truly a racist.”
“I was complicit with this White House deceiving this nation,” she said. “I had a blind spot where it came to Donald Trump.”
Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Hope Yen contributed to this report from Washington.
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — A year after a deadly gathering of far-right extremists in Charlottesville, Virginia, a few dozen white nationalists marched Sunday across from the White House, their numbers dwarfed by thousands of counterprotesters, while the mother of a woman killed at last summer’s protest said the country continues to face unhealed racial wounds.
The events, largely peaceful though tense at times in Charlottesville and Washington, were part of a day of speeches, vigils and marches marking the anniversary of what was one of the largest gatherings of white nationalists and other far-right extremists in a decade.
In Washington, dozens of police in bright yellow vests formed a tight cordon around the small group of white nationalists, separating them from shouting counterprotesters within view of the White House.
President Donald Trump wasn’t at home — he has been at his golf club in New Jersey for more than a week on a working vacation.
Jason Kessler, the principal organizer of last year’s “Unite the Right” event, led what he called a white civil rights rally in Lafayette Square, directly across the street from the White House.
Kessler said in his permit application that he expected 100 to 400 people to participate, though the number appeared lower. Just before 4 p.m., a contingent of fewer than 30 white nationalists began marching through the streets.
Counterprotesters who assembled ahead of the rally’s scheduled start vastly outnumbered Kessler’s crowd. By midafternoon, more than 1,000 people had already gathered in Freedom Plaza, also near the White House, to oppose Kessler’s demonstration and also march to Lafayette Square.
Makia Green, who represents the Washington branch of Black Lives Matter, told Sunday’s crowd: “We know from experience that ignoring white nationalism doesn’t work.”
By about 5 p.m., those in Kessler’s group packed into white vans and left, escorted by police.
On Aug. 12, 2017, hundreds of neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists descended on Charlottesville, in part to protest over the city’s decision to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.
In Charlottesville Sunday, the mother of a woman killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally last summer said there’s much healing to do a year after the violence.
Heather Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, laid flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of the attack in downtown Charlottesville. With a crowd gathered around her, she thanked them for coming to remember her daughter but also acknowledged the dozens of others injured and the two state troopers killed when a helicopter crashed that day.
“There’s so much healing to do,” Bro said. “We have a huge racial problem in our city and in our country. We have got to fix this or we’ll be right back here in no time.”
The city of Charlottesville said four people were arrested. Two arrests stemmed from a confrontation near a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee where a Spotsylvania, Virginia, man stopped to salute the statue and a Charlottesville woman confronted him and a physical altercation took place, officials said.
Earlier this month, Facebook stunned and angered counterprotest organizers when it disabled their Washington event’s page, saying it and others had been created by “bad actors” misusing the social media platform. The company said at the time that the page may be linked to an account created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency — a so-called troll farm that has sown discord in the U.S. — but counterprotesters said it was an authentic event they worked hard to organize.
Government and police officials in Washington have expressed confidence the city can manage the events without violence; the mayor and police chief promised a massive security mobilization to keep protesters and counterprotesters apart.
Earlier in the day in Charlottesville, more than 200 people gathered in a park to protest racism and mark the anniversary. The group sang songs and listened to speakers, among them Courtney Commander, a friend of Heyer’s who was with her when she was killed.
“She is with me today, too,” Commander said.
Last year in Charlottesville, fighting broke out between attendees and counterprotesters. Authorities eventually forced the crowd to disperse, but a car later barreled into the crowd of peaceful counterprotesters.
A state police helicopter later crashed, killing Lt. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates.
Law enforcement officials faced blistering criticism in the aftermath of last year’s rally for what was perceived as a passive response to the violence that unfolded. A review by a former U.S. attorney found a lack of coordination between state and city police and an operational plan that elevated officer safety over public safety.
The anniversary weekend was marked by a much heavier police presence, which also drew criticism from some activists.
At one point Sunday, demonstrators marched through Charlottesville, chanting, “Cops and Klan go hand in hand,” and “Will you protect us?”
For the complete AP coverage marking one year since the rally in Charlottesville, visit https://apnews.com/tag/CharlottesvilleAYearLater
Rankin reported from Richmond. Associated Press writer Ashraf Khalil in Washington contributed to this report.
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There was reportedly a history between a Baltimore cop and the man he viciously beat down on Saturday.
The same officer caught on video punching Deshawn McGrier Saturday also roughed him up during a June 26 arrest, WBAL’s Vanessa Herring reported. A video posted online by McGrier’s friend purported to show that previous encounter.
Baltimore police officials suspended the officer Saturday after the latest video of his interaction with McGrier went viral, according to USA Today. It’s unclear what prompted the officer to repeatedly punch McGrier at a Baltimore sidewalk.
McGrier, responding to the officer, shouts, “For what?” on the video. He follows that question with, “Don’t touch me,” before the officer begins pounding him.
After bashing the suspect with his fists, the officer wrestles him onto the top of a house’s front steps and delivers more blows. He punches the man’s head multiple times as he lies on the steps, eventually holding him down to the ground. McGrier does not fight back. He’s seen on the ground, bleeding from the mouth.
A second officer at the scene failed to intervene.
After all of that, the police did not charge McGrier with any crime, Herring reported. He was recovering in the hospital Saturday night from a broken or fractured jaw, as well as injuries to his eye socket, nose, ribs, and left leg.
This comes against the backdrop of the Baltimore Police Department struggling to comply with reforms under a federal consent decree. Baltimore worked out a road map for changes in how it polices the city’s Black community. A Department of Justice probe into the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray and a mountain of complaints against the police found that the department was routinely using excessive force against Black residents.
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